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Fun takes front seat at Olympic-inspired yard games

Competing for gold with backyard favorites

Created date

November 20th, 2012

Egg-and-spoon races and horseshoes weren t on the list at this year s London Olympic Games, but if you ask Brett Goldberger, maybe they should have been. Goldberger, a fitness specialist at Charlestown, organized the first annual Yard Olympic Games at the Erickson Living community in Catonsville, Md., featuring backyard favorites that have stood the test of time. I thought this would be a fun way to promote exercise and enjoy some of the games people remember from growing up, says Goldberger. The Yard Olympics were held on the lawn in front of the community s Charlestown Square Clubhouse. After a brief opening ceremony, 12 teams of three to four people competed in a round-robin style tournament of games, including croquet, lawn bowling, horseshoes, egg-and-spoon races, a water balloon toss, and a beanbag toss, with each event lasting about 30 minutes. Mary Loris s team, which included her husband Albert and their Charlestown neighbor Muncha Davis, won first place in the tournament. Everything was great! says Mary. We couldn t have had a better day. I used to be a bowler, and I also play bocce, so lawn bowling was the easiest of all the games for me. The horseshoes were the most challenging just because they re a little difficult to throw. Mary and Albert, both avid sports fans, sold their Glen Burnie condominium and moved to Charlestown in 2006. Activities like this are just one of the reasons we enjoy living at Charlestown, says Mary. We have made so many friends here. We ve met people from all walks of life who we otherwise wouldn t meet. It opens up your outlook on life.

Smaller scale but just as fun

Muncha says that after watching the Olympics this summer on television, she thought the Yard Olympics sounded like lots of fun. I saw it advertised outside the fitness center and decided to sign up, she says. The only game I hadn t played before was croquet, but they showed us how to play and explained the rules. I think I enjoyed the water balloon toss most of all. Three teams tied for first place, each with four wins and two losses. The tie breaker was determined by the total number of pins each team knocked down in the lawn bowling competition. First, second, and third place winners all received ribbons. Ann and Bob Engel didn t take home the gold but enjoyed the friendly competition. It was a beautiful day, and enjoying the camaraderie with friends and other members of the community is always fun, says Ann. It s been a long time since we ve played so many of those games. As a diabetic, Ann says she knows firsthand the importance of exercising. I like to stay active, she says. I m a member of the fitness [center] here at Charlestown, and I also take a weight training class and a Zumba class. I also do a lot more walking here than I did when we lived at our house in Glen Burnie. Instead of driving everywhere, now I can walk to everything.

Exercise can be fun

Goldberger says the day was such a hit that he s already thinking about next year s Yard Olympic Games. There s a misconception that exercise has to be boring, says Goldberger. Events like this are a great way to show how exercise can be fun. It s inspiring to watch people embrace the active lifestyle and amenities Charlestown offers. I talk to residents every day at the fitness center and in the fitness classes I teach who say they haven t felt this good physically in years. To me, that says it all.